Sensex plunges 121 pts to 6,535

Mumbai, March 22 | Updated: Mar 23 2005, 05:30am hrs
Year-end jitters took toll on the Sensex on Tuesday. With just a few days for fiscal 2004-05 to come to a close, the benchmark index nosedived 121.24 points to end at 6,535.45. Metal, banking and auto stocks were meted out the worst beating. The S&P CNX Nifty of the NSE also shed 35 points to end at 2,061.6.

The Sensex opened at 6,655.78, lower than Mondays close of 6,656.69. It rose marginally before selling pressure pulled it down to a low of 6,520.15. The index dropped below the 6,600-mark at around 1 pm and traded below that psychological mark for the rest of the session before falling 1.82% by the end of the day.

Analysts say the markets are into panic selling after falling from record levels. Hitesh Seth, technical analyst at Prabhudas Liladher, said: Investors are booking profits and many have pressed the panic button. That the financial year is nearing completion is acting as a catalyst.

Although selling activity was witnessed at most counters, sectors like banking, PSU, auto and metal stocks were the worst-hit. The BSE Metal underperformed all other sectoral indices, moving down a whopping 235.83 points to end at 6,573.58. The index had crossed the 7,000-mark on March 16. SAIL (down 4.08% at Rs 65.8), Essar Steel (down 4.96% at Rs 60.35), Tata Steel (down 3.16% at Rs 417.4) all ended with heavy losses.

Banking stocks also ended in the negative territory. While ICICI Bank was down by 3.28% to Rs 395.2, State Bank of India shed 4.08% at Rs 693. HDFC Bank, Andhra Bank, Bank of India, Union Bank and UTI Bank ended the day in the red.

Auto stocks were also at the receiving end as reports of a fuel price hike led to a fall in investor interest.